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Something Fishy

posted Monday August 27th, 2012


I have a crush on a fish.

If you know me at all (and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it here once or twice) this might sound strange, because I have had a fish phobia pretty much my entire life. As in I will not eat fish (or anything that comes “from the sea” — and that does include fresh water), I will not touch fish, and I do not like looking at fish. Not when you can tell what it is, anyway.

In almost 46 years, I’ve made so few exceptions I can count them on two hands. I’ll choke down a few bites if you invite me to your house and serve me fish and I really, really like you. I’ll eat shrimp if it’s wrapped in several layers of fresh Vietnamese spring roll. And I’ll stick my toes in the ocean — but just my toes.

Do not expect me to get excited for Shark Week; don’t put a shrimp head in a bowl of soup in front of me; in fact, don’t even leave an old paperback copy of Jaws around. I’ll have to turn it over so I can’t see the cover. Just the thought makes me shudder.

For most of my life, this phobia was fairly easy to indulge. Then I had kids — and pets. Years ago Ray stuck a big tank with about a billion fish (ok, maybe half a dozen) in Annabelle’s room. He cleans and she feeds and I avert my eyes. It works okay. (It’s better than a snake.)

Two Chrismases ago, Santa brought Sophie a fish. I thought this was a big mistake (big surprise) and told Ray so. “What if it dies? What if she kills it? What if she doesn’t care about it?” I asked. “It’s just a fish.”

But Ray knew she’d love it, and she did. He bought a Beta, which meant there would only be one fish in Sophie’s life. I thought it was pretty horrible that our sweet daughter would own a pet with a strong instinct to rip another fish apart in seconds, but I figured the alternative was a whole tank of fish (or a snake) so I kept my mouth shut.

Sophie was thrilled with her new pet, and knew exactly what to name her: “Sophie the Fish.”

I heard that, and an icicle cracked off my frozen heart. Maybe this fish thing wouldn’t be so bad.

And it wasn’t. Ray helped Sophie take care of her fish, and I averted my eyes. After a few months, sometimes I’d sneak a glance at her. And after a year or so, I was actually stooping, once in a while, to examine her. She wasn’t so bad — bulgy eyes, creepy mouth, but her teeny tiny fins were actually sort of cute. She was purple-blue and lived in a tank with a purple castle and plastic purple plants and Sophie the Girl loved to talk to her, to turn her light off and on and to make sure to send her regards via our pet sitter when were out of town.

One day I walked by the tank and didn’t see Sophie the Fish and to my great surprise, I was actually a little upset. Ray assured me he’d been keeping an eye on her and that sometimes she hid at the bottom. I was happy to see her emerge.

Months went by, and Sophie the Fish would come and go and then one day I realized it had been a really, really long time since I’d seen her, so I pressed Ray on it. For a few days he told me he was pretty sure she was hibernating. And finally he admitted she was gone.

“GONE?!” I asked. “You mean she died and you scooped her out and YOU DIDN’T TELL ME? What are we going to tell Sophie?!”

It was a little more complicated, he explained. Sophie the Fish had disappeared.

“I think we better start keeping the cat out of Sophie’s room,” he said.

Oh.

Nothing a trip to PetSmart won’t fix..

Sophie the Fish II is now happy in her new tank, and Sophie the Girl never noticed. Ray felt really guilty not telling her, but I think in this case a little deception is okay. Last week Annabelle confronted me point blank and I admitted to being the Tooth Fairy; that’s enough honesty for me for a while.

Plus, Sophie II looks exactly like Sophie I. I know this for sure because these days, I kind of enjoy sneaking into Sophie the Girl’s room and hanging out around the fish tank. Go figure.

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Tags: Filed under: family by Amysilverman

3 Responses to “Something Fishy”

  1. The cat got her? Sounds fishy.

  2. that was just lovely amy! make sure you add this one to the file of life stories to give sophie when she is older!

  3. How did Anabelle take the news about the Tooth Fairy?

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